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Services entrepreneur receives award

PUBLISHED: 15:12 27 January 2015 | UPDATED: 15:26 27 January 2015

Sarah Dunning, Chief Executive / Photo: Alan Spedding

Sarah Dunning, Chief Executive / Photo: Alan Spedding

Alan Spedding

As the M5 southband Gloucester Services nears completion and is due to open this summer, Sarah Dunning, Chief Executive of Gloucester Services, has won the Best Retail Entrepreneur (turnover over £20m) category of the first-ever Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year.

Gloucester Services, which opened in May 2014, has a unique approach to running motorway services, offering locally sourced, seasonal food and produce.

Sarah Dunning, who is also CEO of the Westmorland Family, who own and operate the services said; “Entrepreneurialism is at the core of our business, it’s not just the spirit of Gloucester Services but at the heart of all the great food business that supply the services. There’s wonderful optimism in food businesses, the passion for provenance and quality is infectious and drives all of our businesses.”

At Gloucester Services, there are no fast food chains or franchises on the forecourt. Instead, a farm shop selling locally produced food, a butchery featuring Gloucestershire meat and a café serving homemade dishes produced fresh daily using locally sourced ingredients.

Gloucester Services, which is the sister project of the acclaimed Tebay Services based in Cumbria, works with 200 producers from across the South West, 130 of which are within 30 miles of the site. It has been created in partnership with the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, a social regeneration charity.

Once completed the £40 million project will employ 300 people in the local area and will redistribute an estimated £10 million over 20 years back into local Gloucestershire charitable community projects.

Food writer Charles Campion said: “It used to be that when you pulled up at a motorway services the first thing on the list was finding a toilet (incidentally Gloucester Services toilets are splendid, spacious and fresh). Your visit was what marketeers refer to as a distress purchase. If you wanted to eat, it was some chips or a cake from the coffee shop. Gloucester Services sets a new agenda – you might scoff a traditional pie or some of the excellent homemade cake. And then you can wander through to the butcher and buy the Sunday joint, or a sourdough loaf, or a cake from Beau’s Bakery. The mantra used to be that to succeed in business you had to exceed your customer’s expectations; Gloucester Services manages that trick on every level.”

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